Aaron Juhnke, who owns Junkyard Brewing Company with his brother Daniel, is happy he located his business in Moorhead.
A year ago, he opened a taproom on First Avenue North, and judging by the crowd on a recent warm Thursday afternoon, the response has been good.
“Weeknights and weekends are all packed,” he said over a beer with Matt Maslowski, the city’s economic development director, who listed off the names of other new or expanding businesses in the city.
“Overall, it’s been a great year,” said Maslowski, who attributed business growth in the city to a number of factors: strong residential growth, the city’s 13,000 college students and a good overall economy.
Downtown Moorhead, which Maslowski said is a priority when it comes to redevelopment, has seen several businesses open and expand in recent months.
Moorhead Billiards, a bar, billiards center and cafe, opened in December at 701 Center Ave., replacing a pub that was mostly torn down after a fire in 2013. And this summer the venue opened another element of its business, an outdoor patio.
A few blocks away, the restaurant Rustica, 315 Main Ave., which opened last summer, unveiled a tavern side in April. And for those who prefer to drink at home, the liquor store 99 Bottles, 924 Main Ave., in April finished up an expansion. Now the store boasts a wider wine selection and new tasting bar.
The growth is not only in the city’s center. In south Moorhead, the opening of Hornbacher’s in June was a “big win” for the city, Maslowski said. He said the grocery’s opening, at the Azool retail center, was in part thanks to residential growth in the city’s south side.
Moorhead City Planner Kristie Leshovsky confirmed that there has been “a lot of growth” in homes. In the first half of 2015, permits were issued for 128 single-family and twin home units and 240 multi-family units, Leshovsky said. For all of 2014, the numbers were 180 and 269.
Leshovsky also said the number of property tax exemptions approved for developers has shot up in recent years. In 2011, there were two, compared with 18 in 2014 and nine in the first half of this year.
“Rooftops bring in economic development,” Maslowski said.
But having more rooftops is not the only thing on a business owner’s mind.
Juhnke, whose Junkyard Brewing Co. started selling beer to bars and restaurants in 2012, said he likes Moorhead because the business and government communities are friendlier than they are in Fargo.
“People see this as a community to raise your family, do business in, be safe, enjoy your neighbors,” Maslowski said. “Also, the water is really good,” Juhnke quipped. “That’s important for making beer.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Adrian Glass-Moore at (701) 241-5599 or firstname.lastname@example.org